Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Cheaper Than Therapy
Rickie and I debated out loud the debate we have each been having in our heads. Is the harvest from our small garden worth the water and the time we expend on it?
On paper, no, it’s not. It’s so dry and even with our watering, the plants are not producing like they should. A late freeze damaged our tomato plants and we had to replant. It was by then too hot and we only got a couple of tomatoes before we had to pull them up.
The few grapes we had this year were all eaten by the birds. We normally cover them with a net but there were so few this year we decided the birds needed them worse than we did.
We did get some good squash, onions, and some Crawford lettuce that was super! The birds are eating the new shoots and blooms on the pepper plants, which they have never done before. Rickie covered them with a net this weekend. We have a few watermelons that should be ripe soon and an early pumpkin that is turning orange. The other pumpkin plants and butternut squash plants are doing well.
Last year we had the best peach crop ever. This year we didn’t have a single peach. The two oldest peach trees are so stressed we may lose them.
The fruit trees and vegetables and herbs are on a drip system that waters them every night at 2 am. It’s a very slow drip on our well and really only keeps them alive; they need supplemental watering or rain to prosper.
There is the very real possibility that our well will run dry if we don’t get rain soon. We live in a semi-dry area that normally gets about 25 inches of rain a year. We have had 6.9 inches since last July 4th. And getting out there on these 100+ degree days takes a toll on us.
We wondered aloud if we should pull up the garden this year and start again next year. We considered that maybe we should have directed all the water to the two old peach trees and let the few drought tolerant plants we have in the yard fight it out with nature on their own. We do have a rainwater harvesting system and it has been about half full twice this year so we have used that as long as it lasted.
The same debate was talked out about whether we should have gotten rid of the longhorns. Financially, that is an easy one. Of course, any reasonable person would have sold them months ago. We have been feeding them during this drought for a year now. There is not a blade of green grass for them to eat. Feed, coastal Bermuda hay, and alfalfa hay have gone up in price with the drought that extends outside our state.
But there is a harvest from the garden that can’t be calculated in terms of dollars and time spent. This morning I turned the news on as I drank my coffee. There was a high ranking church official being replaced because he helped cover up child abuse in the church. A media mogul, owner of newspapers and a major television network, is under investigation for his company hacking into the phone of a murdered girl, giving her parents false hope she was still alive, and bribing police officials. Politicians are acting like two years olds and won’t grow up and accept their responsibilities. Instead they stomp their feet and pout and call each other names while the military, retirees, and government and school employees worry whether they will get a check they earned so they can feed their families and pay their bills.
It turns a naturally optimistic and happy person into a tormented and angry human being. It makes me want to scream and smack someone!
But I don’t have time for that. The garden needs watering and the longhorns need feeding. And that is where the true worth of them comes into play. It doesn’t take long working outside and caring for things until my mood is back to normal. I marvel at how things grow from tiny seeds and how they smell and the colors of them. I smile at Woodrow and Gus as they see me coming and stick their heads over the fence waiting for me to fill up the feed buckets. They have a routine too and after they eat they head for the shade of the cedar trees to just chill out.
Rickie and I come from a long line of farmers, loggers, small yard gardeners, and caretakers of animals. It is bred into us and taught to us to put our hands in the dirt and to care for living things. These are all part of living in the country, although we have had a small garden in most every place we have lived. They add a value to our lives that can’t be measured in money. They soothe our souls and keep us grounded in a crazy world that we have no control over.